PA-Gov: Corbett Will Not Pledge No New Taxes This Time Around

Tom-Corbett-upsetGov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday that while he believes that he kept his pledge from his 2010 campaign that he wouldn’t raise taxes, he won’t be able to make the same promise heading into this November’s election.

Corbett, however, did during his first term increase and institute new fees during his first term and signed a transportation bill that increased gas taxes. All this despite the fact that he  stated in a debate during the 2010 general election campaign that he would not raise any fees.

“I think when you talk to taxpayers and, as a whole, you say, ‘Is Gov. Corbett keeping his promises on the issue of taxes?’ I think they’re going to say ‘yes’ because they’re not paying more taxes in the personal income tax,” Corbett said. “They’re not paying more taxes in the sales tax. They’re not paying more taxes in new taxes.”

Last November, Corbett signed a transportation bill that received bipartisan support – including a nod from opponent Tom Wolf – that centered mostly around an increase on gas taxes. Corbett, however, argues that he did not increase the percentage of gas taxes per say, but instead allowed them to increase as gas prices increase.

In the past five months, Corbett has signed legislation doubling the fee for birth certificate copies, increasing the fee on court filings, and imposing local impact fees on oil and gas drillers.

In addition, last year he delayed a decrease in the capital stock and franchise tax, which both the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association – both organizations that generally support Corbett – called a tax increase. Corbett disagrees.

Corbett claimed that while he cannot make the same pledge this year, he will do everything he can to continue to keep taxes “under control.”

“What I’m saying is, we’re going to continue doing what we’re doing and that’s trying to provide the best possible government we possibly can, to be the most efficient we can, to be a government that encourages the growth of the private sector in Pennsylvania so that more people can keep more money in their pockets.”

When asked if he regretted making the promise not to raise taxes four years ago, he said that predicting the large amount of new revenue PA would need during his term would have been impossible.

“Nobody has the crystal ball that’s going to say, ‘Well, I can say this and not worry about it; I can say that and not worry about it,’” Corbett said.

PA-Gov: Corbett Never Met with Tomalis During Year as Advisor

Governor-Tom-CorbettGovernor Corbett held no meetings with Ron Tomalis during his time as special adviser on higher education, government records show.

According to Brad Bumsted of the Tribune-Review, copies of the Governor’s official calendar show no meetings between Gov. Corbett and Tomalis between May 15, 2013 (the day Tomalis stepped down as Education Secretary) and mid-July 2014.

Tomalis, who resigned last week, has seen his tenure increasingly questioned since a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report revealed the staffer appeared to have an exceptionally light workload.

Then, Steve Esack of the Morning Call reported this week that Tomalis’ tenure in his new position would allow him to collect significantly higher pension benefits.

This has led to accusations by some that Tomalis was given his position merely to pad his eventual retirement account.

The Corbett Administration, however, is vehemently pushing back against those charges.

“I can tell you definitively there was no decision to keep Tomalis on to get a higher pension,” Corbett’s spokesman Jay Pagni told the Tribune-Review.

Meanwhile GOP Sen. Mike Folmer, the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, says he was shown evidence by the Department of Education that Tomalis did work there. Folmer told Bumsted he saw records of Tomalis’ parking swipes, proving his attendance.

“I’m telling you, he was not a ghost employee,” Folmer said.

After viewing Tomalis’ parking records and speaking to Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq, Sen. Folmer cancelled a planned committee hearing, asserting that it was no longer necessary.

The Wolf campaign, and their PAC FreshStartPA, appear in no rush to let the story die down, though it’s unclear if the story’s legs will carry it into the fall season. This could depend on the Governor’s ability to answer two questions: 1. Why did you keep Tomalis on after he left your Cabinet? and 2. If his advice was so valuable that you needed him in your Administration, why didn’t you ever seek it over the course of his 14 month tenure?

The most lasting legacy of this episode may be the way it tests the political skills of Governor Tom Corbett just months before the most important electoral contest of his life.

8/21 Morning Buzz

PA-state-flag6Roll Call ignores PA-8, the GOP file a complaint against Wolf and the Trivedi campaign accuses Costello of wrong-doing. Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz!

Roll Call Excludes PA From Top Five List of Mid-Atlantic Races to Watch: Roll Call released its second list of the top 5 races to watch in the Mid-Atlantic region today, and this time excluded the PA-8 race that it had mentioned back in July 2013.

PA-Gov: GOP Leaders File Election Complaint Against Tom Wolf: The PA Republican Party claims that Wolf’s PACs are not following Pennsylvania campaign election laws.

PA-6: Trivedi Campaign Accuses Costello of Donor Payouts: The Trivedi campaign today accused opponent Ryan Costello of awarding large contracts to donors to his congressional campaign.

Legislative Election Update:

HD-163: Democratic nominee Vince Rongione won the endorsement of the AFSCME District Council 88 today. “This isn’t about politics. Vince has deep roots in the district and the experience to represent our workers well in the State House,” said Tom Tosti, Director of AFSCME District Council 88. “It’s a real honor to have the support of such an important union and a cornerstone of the middle class in Delaware County,” Rongione responded. “It means a lot that they support Rep. Micozzie and now have selected me as the best choice to represent the district and their thousands of members.”

Capitolwire: Hold-harmless provision an early point of contention for Basic Education Funding Commission
Capitolwire: No bipartisan investigation into DOH complaint process planned, so far
Capitolwire: AG’s office argues for jury trial in Turnpike corruption case
PLS Reporter: A look back with Rep. Jerry Stern

PhillyNow: Philly Police to experiment with body camera program, but will it protect your rights?
KYW Newsradio: Across Pennsylvania, A Push For Universal Pre-Kindergarten
WHYY NewsWorks: OARC may be target of FBI probe
WHYY NewsWorks: Pressing for tougher gun law in Philadelphia
WHYY NewsWorks: Pa. unemployment ticks up a bit, still down over past year [graphs]
The Inquirer: U.S. court lifts ban on campaign donations by Phila. police officers
The Inquirer: Defense lawyers in building collapse case seek Nutter testimony

The Intelligencer: Kane: Collaboration needed to combat child predators
Pottstown Mercury: Spring-Ford School Board discusses eliminating per capita taxes
Pottstown Mercury: Corbett: I kept no-new tax pledge ‘the best I can’
Bucks County Courier Times: County commissioners read to kids, advocate early childhood education
Bucks County Courier Times: Eating disorders subject of public hearing in Newtown

WTAE: UPS says 51 retail stores breached by malware, Pennsylvania included
Pittsburgh Business Times: Proposed regulations could have companies paying more for emissions
Tribune-Review: Connellsville’s blighted property ordinance overcomes first hurdle
Tribune-Review: South Fayette seeks movement on development of former Star City Cinema property
Tribune Review: GOP: Wolf ‘Fresh Start’ campaign violates Pennsylvania law
KDKA: Ferguson Unrest Felt Locally At East Liberty Rally
Post Gazette: Test scores show some improvement in Pittsburgh Public Schools
Early Returns: PA GOP clings to links between Wolf, Obama
Early Returns: Council is all wet
Early Returns: Ice bucket brigade grows
City Paper: Point of Law: Do ‘safe passing’ regulations really make it safer for cyclists if they’re not enforced?

Altoona Mirror: Two townships working to aid handicapped voters
Altoona Mirror: County expected to add farmland into program
Altoona Mirror: Veterans encouraged to discuss mental health
Beaver County Times: County considers $21,000 plan to decide where to place courthouse signs
Beaver County Times: County pension fund drops $5.8M
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: Will Conemaugh’s properties bring tax windfall?
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: Common Core standard draws criticism
Observer-Reporter: Ex-Washington County employee files whistleblower suit
AP: Supporters rally for Pittsburgh man shot by police

Standard Speaker: Schuylkill County to sell nursing home
Standard Speaker: Stevens not ruling out court run
The Times Leader: Pennsylvania American Water announces $1.6 million county upgrade
The Times Leader: Barletta wants FEMA policy revised in favor of gas development
Citizens Voice: W-B housing development a step closer to reality
Citizens Voice: County seeks to garnish CityVest parking revenue
Pocono Record: Settlement reached for 701 Main St. building
Pocono Record: Coolbaugh wants more information from police commission
Pocono Record: Lamar Thomas loses spot on Nov. ballot
Pocono Record: Gas co.’s proposed change hits resistance
News Item: PPL to dump fly ash in Locust Summit
Times-Tribune: FEMA halts flood assistance for properties with gas leases
Times-Tribune: Dunmore School Board pulls PB&J policy from agenda
Times-Tribune: Pittston City approves loans for streetscape project, library expansion

South Central
Carlisle Sentinel: Shippensburg council hears plans for gas line to Volvo
Harrisburg Patriot News: Pennsylvania school funding commission tackles income v. property; cost centers; and aid floors at first meeting: Four takeaways
Lancaster Intelligencer/Era: Community Health Systems settles lawsuits elsewhere, but local whistleblower suit still active

Lehigh Valley
Morning Call: Federal appeals court lifts ban on campaign donations by Philly cops
Morning Call: Strike vote on hold: Contract negotiations to resume in Saucon Valley
AP: Gov. Corbett: I kept no-new tax pledge the ‘best I can’
WFMZ: D.A.: Office seized more than $100,000 in drugs last year

North by Northwest
Onward State: Former State College Psychologist Charged With Assaulting Patients
Williamsport Sun Gazette: Commissioners to vote Thursday on measure to remedy collapsing area in Watson Township

News Item: State prison’s positives not always noticed
Times-Tribune: Zoning won’t stop drillers
Post Gazette: Price hike ill-advised: The solution to a costlier LCB is private stores
Post Gazette: Armed to the hilt: Military hardware should get only rare police use
Post Gazette: Solitary error: The state pays for the mistreatment of an inmate
Harrisburg Patriot News: Corbett should be glad he’s not governor in a state like Texas
York Dispatch: WellSpan’s slippery slope
Bucks County Courier Times: A sorry tale of 2 school districts
Pottstown Mercury: Time running out for Pa. property tax reform
Altoona Mirror: Evaluate salaries carefully
Citizens Voice: Get ahead of power line

Above Average Jane: 2014 Candidates’ Comedy Night
Keystone State Education Coalition: PDK-Gallup: majority of public oppose Common Core; have more trust in their local school board than federal govt.
2 Political Junkies: Still, no actual science here

PA-6: Trivedi Campaign Accuses Costello of Donor Payouts

Costello Protest

Protest by the Chester County Democratic Party

The campaign of Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania’s 6th District Manan Trivedi, accused Republican opponent Ryan Costello of using his position as Chair of the Chester County Board of Commissioners to hand out million dollar contracts to his political donors today.

According to Trivedi’s campaign, in less than three years as a commissioner Costello has awarded various political contributors with large contracts, totaling more than $29 million.

They further allege that at a meeting today, Costello awarded one of the largest contributors to his campaign for Congress a contract for more than $14 million, nearly matching the cost of all contracts from the past two years.

Trivedi spokesman Daren Berringer pointed to the contracts as an example of how Costello would help to perpetuate the lack of trust in government that many citizens hold today.

“It is clear that in a very short amount of time as commissioner, Ryan Costello has played politics as usual by doling out millions upon millions of dollars in contracts to his political donors,” he said.

“With the culture of corruption being what it is in Washington these days, Ryan Costello would fit in nicely, but voters in the 6th District deserve better from their next representative. Manan Trivedi has pledged to fight for stronger restrictions on lobbying because he believes members of Congress should serve their constituents, not the deep pocketed donors that fund their campaigns.”

Peter Towey, Costello’s campaign manager, countered that many offices must review new contracts before they reach the desks of the County Commissioners, and that at no point does Costello have contact with vendors seeking contracts during the negotiation process.

“These attacks are a joke just like Trivedi’s campaign for Congress,” Towey told PoliticsPA. “These businesses have been providing services to the county long before Ryan ever became a Commissioner, and were recommended by non-partisan staff and voted on unanimously by both Democrats and Republicans.”

“This is nothing more than an attempt from a desperate candidate to distract voters from the fact that Trivedi doesn’t live or work in Pennsylvania, and would be a rubber-stamp for Nancy Pelosi’s extreme views in Congress,” Towey concluded.

PA-Gov: GOP Leaders File Election Complaint Against Tom Wolf

PAGOP-logoThe Chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, Rob Gleason, and his Vice Chairman, Joyce Haas, have filed a formal complaint against Democratic nominee for governor Tom Wolf and his political action committees (PACs).

Wolf’s campaign has two main PACs, the Tom Wolf for Governor Committee and the Campaign for a Fresh Start. Gleason alleges that Wolf has been “shifting the principal role of the Tom Wolf for Governor Committee to raise and disburse funds for his campaign to Campaign for a Fresh Start, an entity he created and authorized to take over those activities.”

“Both of Tom Wolf’s political action committees are operating in violation of Pennsylvania’s Election Code,” Gleason continued. “Just like when his business incorporated in Delaware, Tom Wolf is once again employing a strategy aimed at evading Pennsylvania law.”

According to Gleason, the Campaign for a Fresh Start Committee was formed for the purpose of “trying to avoid the impact of the Election Code requirements that govern candidates and their committees.”

“Whether it’s in his business practices or his campaign, Tom Wolf is not comfortable with being open or transparent with the public,” he concluded. “We are calling on Secretary Aichele and the PA Department of State to recognize these material violations, inform both of Wolf’s PACs that they must cease violating the Election Code, and refer the matter to appropriate law enforcement authorities.”

Fresh Start Spokesman Mike Mikus fired back at these allegations.

“This complaint would be laughable if it wasn’t an attempt by Tom Corbett to use the state Department of Elections – which is run by one of his political employees – to silence his opponents about the real scandals within his administration.”

Mikus then asserted that this was merely an attempt to distract attention from the uproar over Ron Tomalis’ tenure and resignation.

“Tom Corbett’s campaign is desperately trying to change the subject and deflect attention from the scandals that have engulfed his administration,” Mikus stated. “No frivolous complaint will change the fact that Tom Corbett illegally held campaign meetings in his state office, nor will it change the fact that for no work, Ron Tomalis was paid $140,000 and saw a huge bump in his pension. These sleazy tactics will not change the fact that Tom Corbett keeps his education Secretary even though she admitted to the media that she is illegally deleting emails.”

“Tom Corbett should quit using taxpayer resources to silence his opponents and start explaining to taxpayers why he used their money to pay Ron Tomalis $140,000 to do no work,” he concluded.

Whether the complaint filed by Gleason and Haas will attract much attention by the authorities is questionable. However, this maneuver appears to be one step in a bigger push by Republicans to brand Wolf as unethical and a shady businessman.

Update: Jeffrey Sheridan, Spokesman for the Wolf Campaign, provided the following response to PoliticsPA:

“This is a clear and desperate attempt by Governor Corbett to distract from the ongoing scandals plaguing his administration. Governor Corbett’s frivolous complaint is laughable, but his administration’s incompetence and ethical lapses are no laughing matter.”

Roll Call Excludes PA From Top Five List of Mid-Atlantic Races to Watch

mike-fitzpatrick2Roll Call released a list of the top 5 races to watch in the Mid-Atlantic region today, and excluded any races from Pennsylvania.

Author Nathan Gonzales even went so far as to say that “It’s a bad sign for Democrats when they have more Mid-Atlantic congressional opportunities in West Virginia than in Pennsylvania.”

This list signals a change from last summer, when Roll Call listed PA-8 as a race to watch. Even then, the district was categorized as “Republican Favored”, though the race was still considered one to keep an eye on.

Gonzales’s description of PA-8 this time around, however, is short and packed with bad news for PA Democrats.

“GOP Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick is running strong in Pennsylvania’s 8th District, and his race with Democrat Kevin Strouse should barely be considered competitive at this point,” he wrote.

Roll Call’s slight change in prediction is just one indicator in a slowly growing line of pundits downgrading the once optimistic chances of both Kevin Strouse in PA-8 and Democratic nominee Manan Trivedi in PA-6.

The organization did include NJ-3 on their list, which echoes DCCC Chair Steve Israel’s comments last month. This would suggest that the New Jersey race, and not one of the two SEPA contests, are the Democrats’ top priority in the Delaware Valley.

8/20 Morning Buzz

PA-state-flag6Rendell criticizes Ferguson’s response, labor unrest could threaten Philly’s 2016 DNC bid and we ask our readers whether there should be a lieutenant gubernatorial debate. Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz!

Rendell Critiques Ferguson Response, Prompts Rebuke from McCaskill: Former PA governor and Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell said this morning on “Morning Joe” that Missouri’s government could have taken certain steps to ensure it was better prepared for the crisis in Ferguson.

Labor Spats in Philly Hover Over DNC Convention Bid: With unions back protesting the Convention Center just days after DNC officials concluded their tour of Philadelphia, concerns have been raised about how this could affect the city’s bid.

Reader Poll: Should There Be a Lieutenant Gubernatorial Debate?: We ask our readers whether the Lt. Gov candidates should go one-on-one sometime this fall.

Reader Poll: Philly Will Host 2016 Democratic National Convention: Our readers believe that Philadelphia will win the right to host the 2016 DNC.

Legislative Election Update:

SD-26: Delaware County Council Chairman and GOP nominee for State Senate Tom McGarrigle won the endorsement of the 88th District Council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). District Council 88 represents 670 employees in Delaware County and 15,000 employees in Southeast PA.

PLS Reporter: Administration says Healthy PA approval coming shortly, others not so sure
PA Independent: Riding with Uber, as it faces down regulators
StateImpact PA: Groups call for investigation into health department’s handling of drilling
Capitolwire: No bipartisan investigation into DOH complain process planned, so far
Capitolwire: AG’s office argues for jury trial in Turnpike corruption case

PhillyClout: From “Plaza” to “Park,” Dilworth gets a new look and a new name
Daily News: Seizing the moment: Ajay Raju thinks Philly’s on the verge of greatness
WHYY NewsWorks: Pa. law requires expectant parents be given information on Down syndrome after diagnosis
WHYY NewsWorks: U.S. court sides with Philly cops fighting ban on political contributions
PhillyNow: Judge dismisses Kermit Gosnell-related case against city

Daily Local News: Judge Bruno reinstated to bench, awaits Supreme Court action
Bucks County Courier Times: Pension load keeps getting heavier for school districts
The Intelligencer: Montgomery County judge sets trial for state Sen. Washington
Delco Daily Times: County Democrats lambaste Gov. Corbett on education
Delco Daily Times: Corbett lauds ‘Pennsylvania Learns’ in Visit to Garnet Valley

Post Gazette: Federal grand jury that investigated city, Luke Ravenstahl comes to close
Post Gazette: Politicians, everyday Pittsburghers gather for funeral of Sophie Masloff
Pittsburgh Business Times: Can Obama’s campaign manager help Uber beat ‘the Big Taxi cartel’?
WTAE: Ravenstahl grand jury expires; feds mum on probe
KDKA: Ravenstahl Grand Jury Expires Without Returning Indictments
Tribune-Review: Discrimination lawsuit against Pittsburgh police union, city thrown out
Tribune-Review: State Supreme Court declares fine against casino employee unconstitutional
Tribune-Review: Grand jury that heard testimony from Ravenstahl aides ends work

Altoona Mirror: Meeting to focus on cleaning up range
Altoona Mirror: AASD narrowly OKs $500K phone system
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: Cambria Somerset Authority turning to hunters in battle with troublesome geese at Que
Beaver County Times: State addresses handling of drilling-related health concerns
Beaver County Times: Judge rules man cannot stay on council during appeal
PublicSource: Evidence of racial bias in prison makes whites less likely to support reforms
AP: Pa. fines gas drillers for losing control of well

The Times Leader: Dorrance Twp. planning commission wants CAFOs restricted
The Times Leader: Redevelopment Authority talks marketing Wilkes-Barre’s Market Street Square
The Times Leader: Environmental groups: Health department policy improvements for fracking fall short
The Times Leader: City taxpayers to protest at Pashinski’s office
News Item: Line Mtn. rep: Teachers will strike
News Item: Mount Carmel may appoint new treasurer
Times-Tribune: Councilmen: Rogan cellphone tower deal blindsided us

South Central
Harrisburg Patriot News: Tom Wolf and the ‘middle class’ tax hike: Governor race 2014 fact check
Lancaster Intelligencer/Era: Hundreds of Lancaster County residents swarm federal agency with environmental concerns about pipeline
York Dispatch: York County looking for a few good employees

Lehigh Valley
Morning Call: PA FOP endorses Wolf over Corbett
Reading Eagle: Pottstown hospital part of company that had information taken in cyberattack
WFMZ: A fact-check of education funding in Pennsylvania
Express Times: Lehigh Valley childhood cancer assistance organization launches new $3.4 million campaign with help of local students
Express Times: Northampton County councilman calls for end of prison substance abuse program

North by Northwest
Erie Times-News: Erie to host statewide election officials conference
Onward State: Terrell Jones, Vice Provost for Educational Equity, Passes Away
Centre Daily Times: Brian Walker selected to fill open Bellefonte Borough Council seat

Times-Tribune: Entrenchment worst option
Times-Tribune: Schools need adequate reserves
Altoona Mirror: Public deserves PLCB data
Carlisle Sentinel: Our View: Sheetz more proof of arcane laws
York Daily Record: This campaign for governor is getting sleazy
Daily News: A disease no ice bucket will cure
Delco Daily Times: Don’t fall for attack ads in Pa. guv race
Tribune-Review: Recasting the EPA: Devolving power to the states
Tribune-Review: Another carbon credit scheme
Post Gazette: Worker support: Pittsburgh deserves to have the same Act 47 options
Observer-Reporter: The reality about skills, drugs and unemployment

PA Budget and Policy Center: Cutting your way to a more sluggish recovery
Keystone State Education Coalition: Former State Rep. Kathy Manderino to head new PA school funding campaign
Commonwealth Foundation: Teachers opt out of union membership
Citizens Call: Wawa zoning issue pulled from Wed. night board agenda

Labor Spats in Philly Hover Over DNC Convention Bid


Photo by Steve Trader/NewsWorks

Although current squabbles between the city of Philadelphia and labor unions may signal problems for its bid as a labor-friendly city to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016, Patrick Eiding, president of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, says that the disputes won’t cause any disruptions during the event.

Officials from the Democratic National Committee left Philadelphia on Thursday after visiting to evaluate the city’s potential to host the convention, and 50 union carpenters returned to their spot outside of the convention center with an inflatable “fat cat” to protest the center’s hiring of two other trade unions because the protesting carpenters – members of the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters – were slow to agree to follow new rules that would make projects less expensive and less disruptive for visitors.

The current protest may very well make the officials that visited last week nervous, as they want assurances that nothing which could embarrass the Democratic Party – known for being friendly with unions – will happen during the convention.

Eiding, though, promises that disputes will not continue through the event. “There won’t be an issue,” he said. “Labor leaders are professional and know the convention would bring plenty of work for everybody.”

Eiding’s argument is persuasive, as it seems that even the bid to host the convention has already helped local unions because the city wants to be seen as labor-friendly as possible while still competing against Birmingham, Phoenix, Columbus and Brooklyn.

The bid has already improved negotiations in District Council 33 of AFSCME’s fight for a contract from the city. After five years without a contract under the administration of Mayor Nutter, who has a notoriously rocky relationship with unions, the 8,800 member group finally saw progress in a meeting on August 8.

According to Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, “One way to make sure we’re viewed as a labor-friendly venue for the convention is to give these people a contract.”

Councilman James Kenney, who may run for mayor in 2015, pointed out that labor relations with unions such as D.C. 33 will likely improve when Mayor Nutter leaves office, allowing for a pleasant labor climate in time for the convention.

Labor leaders, it seems, see enough promise for increased work and benefits for their members to ensure that peace is held through the convention – so much so that they have already pledged to contribute $5 million of the $80 million Philadelphia will need to host the convention.

Leaders and members are also already showing a willingness to work harder to negotiate with the city to settle disputes well before the DNC comes to town, as the carpenter protesters proved when spokesman Marty O’Rourke announced that a mediation meeting in front of the Labor Relations Board has already been scheduled for next month.

“We’re going into that meeting with good intentions, and we hope that management is, too, and that we can work out a reasonable solution,” he asserted. “The carpenters fully support the DNC coming here.”

Rendell Critiques Ferguson Response, Prompts Rebuke from McCaskill

RendellFormer PA governor Ed Rendell claimed this morning on “Morning Joe” that the government of  Ferguson, Missouri could have been more adequately prepared to deal with the chaos that has ensued since Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer.

The former governor, who also previously served as mayor of Philadelphia, referenced a system in place in Philadelphia that he believes would have been helpful in Ferguson.

“In Philadelphia, we have something called a civil affairs unit,” he said. “The civil affairs people go out into the community. They often bring the police clergy with them. We have 78 clergy members who signed up to help the police and they preach at the very beginning, they preach restraint and they say peaceful demonstrations and they say let’s work this out together.”

“Obviously, nothing was in place in Ferguson,” Rendell concluded. “They had no protocols for dealing with this. So they are playing catch-up.”

Though he perhaps did not intend to insult lawmakers in Missouri, his last few words caused backlash from MO Senator Claire McCaskill, who spoke on the show via satellite later in the show and insisted that the hands-on work with the community that Rendell claims is missing is actually just being ignored by the media.

“I have an opportunity now to say that Ed Rendell is wrong, and I don’t get that opportunity often enough,” she said. “Ed Rendell is wrong about one thing. I was in church in Ferguson on Sunday and every church in Ferguson was packed. There wasn’t a lot of cameras at all these different churches…We’ve got everybody engaged on the ground trying to reach out to young people. I’m meeting with a group of young people again tomorrow. There is all kinds of things going on on the ground and it is not getting the coverage it deserves.”

This argument between Rendell and McCaskill is also a bit ironic when you consider that the tactics employed by the Ferguson police forces are believed to be descended from the strategies of former Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney.

Reader Poll: Should There Be a Lieutenant Gubernatorial Debate?

Cawley-StackA candidates’ debate is perhaps the most important yet overrated, overhyped but most-watched, event of any campaign.

Last week, it was revealed that gubernatorial candidates Tom Corbett and Tom Wolf will debate three times in the fall. These will be the only occasions throughout the long horse-race that is a political campaign where both candidates will face off one-on-one.

This got us to thinking about whether in addition to the three gubernatorial debates there should also be a debate between the candidates for Lieutenant Governor, Jim Cawley and Mike Stack.

Much like the Vice President, the Lt. Governor is a second-in-command with little powers who could have to step in at any moment. This begs the question, if the position is so potentially powerful and is included on the gubernatorial ticket, shouldn’t we have the opportunity to see the candidates debate one another?

Vice-Presidential debates have become a tradition and oftentimes are far more enlightening (and entertaining) than their counterparts. Perhaps this would also be the case with a Cawley-Stack encounter.

So, we decided to ask you our readers, should the Lt. Gov candidates hold a debate?

Should There Be a Lieutenant Gubernatorial Debate?

View Results

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